Today, on the group’s last day in Colombia, each student wrote about the value of the trip and made a commitment to use what they learned:
Serena Ainslie ’16: I value my time in Colombia because it showed me how much I didn’t know about being a global citizen. Before coming, I thought of myself as a well-traveled, well-informed person because I’ve been abroad a lot. This trip made me realize that just going to tourist attractions and accepting what tour guides tell you at face value is not being a sophisticated traveler. Being a sophisticated traveler means being inquisitive and trying to discover the underlying issues of a country by stepping out of your comfort zone, talking to people, and dispelling the fear that curiosity will have bad outcomes. Greater knowedge is the only possible outcome of asking more questions. Once I return to the states, I am going to commit to using this new confidence in being curious to ask people I don’t know to share their stories and hopefully get the chance to share mine with them too.
Andrew Hollander ’16: The greatest value of this trip for me, selfishly, is that I am now a much more experienced traveler. I will commit to learning the skills I learned – like how to be responsible when traveling, how to “Leave No Trace,” how to be a polite and respectful guest at someone else’s home or community, and how to effectively converse – in my future travels this summer and for the rest of my life. I also commit to sharing my experiences in Colombia with people back at home, and sharing them in a meaningful and honest way. By this I mean that I will describe my time in detail and try to convey important and broad pieces of culture in Colombia, while also telling stories and being more detailed with moments during my time there. I hope to help my friends, family, and anyone with whom I share my experiences, really understand the similarities and differences between our culture and theirs, as well as helping to lessen the generalizations and stereotypes that are often associated with Colombia and its people.
Ryan Collins ’15: I value this trip more than I thought I would because I am returning home now with new critical thinking skills that pertain to more than just traveling. I have gained so much information about Colombia itself, and I have heard stories from many different people and learned about their lives. The stories I now have and the new relationships that I formed here are ones that are permanent and are things I will often think about.
Bri’ana Odom ’15: During this trip I learned over and over again that making mistakes is okay. From the moments that I struggled with my Spanish-speaking skills while conversing with locals, to the times in the Amazon while canoeing, I was faced with a lot of challenges that forced me to think about my ways of approaching problems. Throughout the trip I have learned how to ask questions and think about things that aren’t just on the surface. I have become a better traveler and seen so many different parts of Colombia. I look forward to sharing my stories of these past two weeks with others in the hopes that I can spread some of my knowledge of what Colombia has to offer.
Kofi Adu ’16: I think the biggest value I got from this experience is learning the communication skills I needed to dig deeper, ask better questions, and make connections with people. While showering in Palomino, the water shut off in the middle of my shower and that really had an impact on me. I want to make a commitment to do a better job of conserving water.
Lucy Beimfohr ’17: This trip was valuable to me because I learned to take risks in all aspects of life and step out of my comfort zone. I tried new foods, I met new people, I pushed my limits, I spoke a lot of Spanish and I learned about the people and culture of Colombia firsthand. I will never forget the things I learned about myself and the world during this trip. I want to make a commitment to share my knowledge and insights about Colombia to others who may only know about stereotypes and generalizations about Colombia.
Maggie Kidder ’16: Something that I took from this trip and that I want to commit to my everyday life is the process of thinking for myself – not simply taking information I hear from someone and going along with it, but asking questions about that information and going under the surface to find out more information to allow myself to form opinions for myself from taking into account multiple different perspectives. I learned how to do this after we spent time looking into the tourist industry here and this new skill is what I value most from the two weeks on this trip.
Megan Retana ’15: Throughout my experience in Colombia, what I came to value the most were the human interactions I had with the natives and with my peers. When I was speaking to Mario and Nixon in the Amazon, or to the man sitting on the steps of the Villa de Leyva church, I did not feel as if I were a foreigner interviewing a stranger to gather information. I was just a person talking to another person. We shared life experiences, our pasts, and so much more.
When I come back to Deerfield, I don’t want to forget about the experiences I had here in Colombia. I feel as if I could use this trip and my past work with Central and South American immigration agencies and shelters to perhaps include more social, environmental, political and economical issues into the Spanish curriculums.
Caroline Pappas ’17: The value of this trip is more than I can put into words, but one of the main things that it helped me with was learning how to look beneath the surface of a tourist location. Before the trip, I would visit amusement parks and zoos and assume that the workers around me with smiles on their faces were happy, when in reality they could be smiling because they will lose their job if they don’t and they are actually working in really bad conditions. It taught me to never accept the front that is put out but to dig deeper and not to accept any injustices that I may find. On a more personal level, the trip brought me many new friendships and relationships that I will treasure for a very long time.
Eight days after I return home, I am traveling away from home again, and it will be very easy to forget about the amazing experience that I had. So, for the next eight days I commit to writing down a story of the trip every day so that I can remember the impact that the trip had on me, and so that when I am drowning in schoolwork in the future, I can go back to remember the types of things that I experienced here in Colombia.
Helena Tebeau ’17: On this amazing trip I made connections with all sorts of people: the Los Nogales students we spent three days with, the Deerfield students I spent two weeks adventuring through Colombia with, the group of teachers and Envoys staff that supported us and helped us grow throughout this trip, and the native Colombians I had the privilege to have conversations with all over the country. If there is one thing I want to take out of this trip, it would be to keep all the relationships I’ve formed, and to continue asking questions. Whenever I travel anywhere, I want to get to know new people and to find out more about the place I’m at. At Deerfield, I will attempt to preserve these relationships and make more, through showing interest and asking questions!
Ileana Glyptis ’16: From this trip, I have learned to value the importance of the environment and the importance of human life, since sometimes both can be treated poorly in some parts of the world. Once I leave Colombia, I will always make sure to question things more and have better critical thinking skills, whether at Deerfield, at home, or when traveling around the world.
Phillip Chung ’16: I have learned an incredible amount, but the greatest value of this trip has not been shown yet. I believe the value of this trip will be shown when I return to my community to process this new information and use it to take actions that help the world. During the trip, I also got to be a trip leader for a day, which involved responsibilities such as watching out for the group and raising our energy. At the end of the day, I learned that it doesn’t take a titled position to take these responsibilities and be a leader. As a result, my commitment is to strive on being a leader in everyday life.
I want to commit to learning more about the tourist industry and how it affects Colombia and its citizens. The industry was very apparent in Colombian life, and I am curious to learn more about the potential positive and negative effects it has on the country.
Jason Han ’15: Only the students and the faculty members who went on the trip will remember the beautiful sky of the night in the Amazon. I am going to cherish the numerous numbers of stars that I saw in my heart. My commitment is this: I want to preserve this beautiful sky for everyone and for the future. My small actions such as picking up the trash, riding bikes instead of cars, and using less water for washing my hands will help the world to be less damaged. I just hope everyone has a chance to know what the beauty of stars is.